CableVision to Launches Network DVR Appeal

U.S. cable television operator Cablevision announced today tht it is filing an appeal of a court decision which bars he company from introducing a DVR server which stores users’ recorded programming on the company’s own servers, rather than on set-top boxes located in subscribers’ homes. The appeal follows a court decision last month in which a U.S. District Court in Manhattan barred the company from launching the service, upholding complains from television networks and Hollywood studios that the service would violate copyright laws.

Cablevision’s plan for a “network DVR” would enable customers to set up recording schedules and features much the way traditional DVR users do today; however, instead of storing the recorded content on a set-top box in a user’s home, the video would be stored on the cable operator’s servers. When customers wanted to view the recorded material, it would be retrieved from the cable operator’s system and streamed to the customer over the cable network on an on-demand basis. “Our remote-storage DVR is the same as conventional DVRs, and merely enables consumers to exercise their well-established rights to time-shift television programming,” said Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge in a statement.

Movie studios and television networks disagree, arguing that storing content “on behalf” of a customer and re-transmitting that data over the cable network amounts to a re-broadcasting of the content, for which the cable company has no license. Studios and television networks would likely be willing to discuss a licensing arrangement for such a service—which, of course, would mean CableVision would be paying a premium for “network DVR”-capable programming. CableVision doesn’t want to do that: the whole point of the network DVR concept is to reduce CableVision’s costs by being able to centrally manage, maintain, and upgrade all the equipment and services needed to provide a DVR service without having to install, maintain, and upgrade individual DVR units in each subscriber’s home.

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